Rural Missouri - September 2013 - (Page 14)
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A mini train at Rothwell Park Railroad heads toward the 44-foot-long tunnel on a beautiful summer day. The train has a wheelchair-accessible car so everyone can ride.
The Magic City Line miniature
railroad at Rothwell Park is modeled
after the historic Wabash, Norfolk
and Western and Norfolk Southern Railroads. The trains come out
every Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
with kids, parents, grandparents and
friends alike riding from April 15 to
Oct. 31. Passengers laugh the entire
course, which takes about 15 minutes
to complete. The cost of each ride is
by Alyssa Goodman
$2.50, making it an affordable and
fun afternoon for an entire family.
The venture takes you across
s riders emerge from the
bridges and over streams such as
black 44-foot-long tunnel
Toad Suck Creek or through the Rose
aboard a mini train, othGardens. The train sits on a 12-inch
ers eagerly wait to have
track and allows for a smooth ride.
their chance to ride back at “the
The gardens surrounding the roughly
one-mile track are maintained by
Mini trains look like little lifeMagic City Master Gardeners. You’ll
sized trains with comfortable seats
also see wood carvings along the
for passengers to hop in. The ride is
way through the beautiful scenery of
smooth with backs on the seats for
The train is operated by 15-25 volJ.W. Ballinger remembers in the
unteers and lots of generous donaearly 1990s discussing a mini train
tions from local businesses and orgain Moberly. However, it wasn’t
nizations. All the money earned from
until July 4, 2003, that the ﬁrst
riders goes right back into maintaintrain left the station. Now, between
ing the track and trains.
60 and 100 people ride the train
Volunteer Robert Schafer has
been responsible for building the
“We took on
trains for the past nine years. He
the project thinkwas originally asked to build
ing that kids would
some switches for the train.
really have fun riding
Little did he know someone
and learning the history
else also was building
of trains, especially kids
switches. His worked,
who have maybe never
while the other’s failed
ridden real trains,” says
to accomplish what the
J.W., who is president
trains needed and ever
of the organization. “It
since, volunteering for the
turns out to be as much fun for
railroad has gradually become an
adults as kids.”
every day activity for him. He takes
Moberly has a rich train history.
classes at the vocational school and
The town’s name came from Col.
even engages fellow students to help
William E. Moberly, who was the
as he teaches them the inner workﬁrst president of the Chariton and
ings of a train. They may call him
Randolph County Railroad Co.
from all over to
Railroad mini trains
On board one of the Rothwell Park Railroad mini trains, Molly Crain of Holliday and
her 2-year-old daughter, Olivia, wait for the train to leave the station.
“old man” at ﬁrst, but once Robert
shows off his skills and the elaborate
trains for which he is responsible, he
gains their respect.
His interest in trains was ﬁrst
sparked while spending his free
time as a kid on the trains where his
grandfather served as a conductor.
Now, he builds them himself. Miniature versions, that is.
Another milestone was reached
about three years ago when a wheelchair-accessible car was added to the
Six-year-old Collin Miller always
gets excited to ride the trains. His
mother, Suzanne, and his brother,
Grant, 3, can sit with him as he
enjoys the loop around Rothwell
Park. Collin was born with spina biﬁda and never gets tired of riding the
train. A smile can constantly be seen
as he loops around the park. “Very
few things are accessible and very
few things he can do,” Suzanne
says. This was their fourth trip to
the train this season.
While at Rothwell Park, families
also can experience the Thompson
Camping Area, ﬁshing, paddleboats
and the aquatic center. Many families enjoy a Sunday train ride and
stay for the many other activities
the park has to offer.
Volunteers such as Robert work
countless hours on the trains for
free. “My favorite thing is to see the
smiles on everyone’s faces,” he says.
“That is the pay everyone gets.”
For more information on the Rothwell Park Railroad, please visit www.
moberlyminitrain.com or call 660263-7139.
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